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Are you really ok?

Abbie Tiller

How many times have you been asked “how ya’ going” and reacted with the same automated reply  of  “not bad” –  either out of habit or avoidance of a conversation about your actual state of wellbeing? It’s time to change the narrative to “how ya’ really going”.

Today is R U OK day. Our National day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that every day is the day to ask “Are you OK?” and support those struggling with life’s ups and downs.

I came across a new podcast recently called Talkin’ Tough, where the “tough is in the talking” about mental health.

The podcast is an initiative of Ski For Life – a 500 kilometre River Murray water skiing event, dedicated to raising awareness around mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention.

In the first episode of the podcast, the boys from Talkin’ Tough, who’ve had their fair share of “tough” moments, acknowledge the founder of Ski For Life – Burra farmer, Bill Stockman, who despite his efforts to acknowledge mental health and raise awareness, tragically took his own life in 2019.

Talkin’ Tough co-host, Ben Pettingill, is a Ski for Life Ambassador, who skis his leg of the event through the direction of an ear piece. At the age of 16, he lost his eyesight overnight to a rare genetic syndrome called Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.

He teams up with Mike Rolls, who at 18, headed off on a footy trip and woke up five weeks later from an induced coma. He’d contracted Meningococcal, was given a five per cent chance of surviving, and to save his life doctors had to amputate two fingers, his right leg below the knee, along with half of his left foot and part of his nose.

And that was just externally. Internally he had liver failure, kidney failure and three bleeds on the brain. After suffering years of discomfort, he made the “tough” decision to have his left leg amputated – a decision he says was the best decision of his life.

The duo have since toured regional Australia as “Mates on a Mission” – having discussions in schools and footy clubs about real life resilience and opening up conversations around mental health.

They’ve recently wrapped up a tour of the Limestone Coast and earlier this year spread their inspirational message throughout the Barossa Valley, Eudunda and Kapunda.

The aim of their program is to bring people together to spark critically important conversations around mental health and wellbeing, break down mental health stigma and connect people with support services where necessary.

Ben said changing the narrative from “how you going mate” to “how you really going mate” was an important step, especially for the people of regional and remote Australia.

“Given how deeply Regional South Australia has been effected by suicide, loss and grief recently, facilitating a program of this nature was vitally important and much needed.

“We have come a long way in terms of talking about mental health. But there’s still a fair way to go,” he said.

“Easy access to mental health services hasn’t yet reached its full potential in rural and regional Australia.”

To listen to the Talkin’ Tough podcast or find out more about these Mates on a Mission click here.  And next time you ask a mate how they are going, try asking how they are “really going”.




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